by Rochelle Valsaint
I think my Facebook profile description does a really good job of summing up who I am.
Visionary. All American Woman. Wife.
Mommi. Daughter. Sister. Aunt. Friend.
This Woman’s Work is never done!
And, I can say that my calendar and to-do list fully reflect all of these roles. I could also add to that description that with this full life, there is never a dull moment. And, that’s certainly been the case this Spring with juggling my leadership role as the Black Alumni of Notre Dame Chairwoman and the growth of TWS Marketing Communications and Media.
But, as I reflect this week, I think less about what I’m able to cram into my life and more and more about the blessings I have been able to enjoy in my life because of one of my greatest role models, Barbara, my mother.
To know who I am really is to know the amazing life story that she had as a foster child, turned guardian to 4 younger siblings at twenty-one years of age at the same time she began her journey in motherhood with her own young child (my older sister, Staci). She’s one of thirteen, and the backbone of our very matriarchal family. She was subjected to an abusive relationship before finding the love of her life, my Daddy, Johnny. And, once on the other side some very traumatic circumstances, she managed to put all the hurt of her past behind her and create the most, loving and wonderful environment for myself and my sisters.
She not only went on to create a great life for us, she is the one that showed me what entrepreneurship looked like. She launched a business, Barbara’s Hair Care and Nails in our home town of New Orleans, that would start as a contribution to my father’s income as a truck driver and eventually top his salary and sometimes be the breadwinner of the household. She helped take our family from a working class family in New Orleans to a middle class family. But, she never let her ego dominate or cause problems in the beautiful relationship she had with my father. And, while doing her work as a wife, mother, friend and oh so many other roles, she always made sure our door was open to all those she loved. That door open policy was the foundation of the Thursday-Sunday gatherings at our home most weekends, always a meal, libations, a place for the kids to play, somewhere to get your dance, laugh and eat on. She has become a big sister and mother figure to many.
Things have slowed down for her a bit since my father passed in 2003. But, the family that’s here in Atlanta as well as those that come in town to visit, all still know that Barbara’s house is where you go to get fed. And, I’m not just talking food. My mother feeds your mind, body and spirit in one visit. You leave full and satisfied. And, you look forward to the next visit.
So if anyone was wondering where I am on weekends, most of the time you’ll find me at her address, after I’ve finished my week of to-do’s and meetings, getting fed. At the same time, I am taking notes to make sure that I have what it takes to continue the tradition she has started by living her life so boldly and generously. I always say if I can be half the woman my mother is, I might actually be doing something!
Love you Ma!